West Virginia has a unique history of Jewish settlement dating back to 1849 when the first Jewish organization in the state, a Jewish burial society, was established by a small group of German Jewish immigrants in the city of Wheeling. From modest beginnings, Jews settled in towns and cities and established businesses and communal organizations. Since that time, the Jews of the Mountain State have been an integral part of the state s economic, cultural, and political life. Though always relatively small in size, West Virginia s Jewish population has been a strong advocate for the state and gained prominence in many areas. Readers will recognize images of well-known institutions such as Shoney s, Cohen s, Frankenberger s, Embee s, and others that bring back fond memories. Despite declines in Jewish population numbers, today s Jewish community remains active and involved in the life of the state."
Title: Author tells of state s Jewish history in new publication Author: Jason Mansfield Publisher: The Journal Date: 11/1/10 A book by local author Julian Preisler is now available for sale, featuring a visual narrative of the history of Jews in West Virginia. Preisler's book, "Jewish West Virginia," includes 128 pages of pictures and text that tell the stories of people, families, local synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in the state. The book features 25 pictures from the Eastern Panhandle, including pictures from Martinsburg, Charles Town and Harpers Ferry. Preisler, a native of Detroit, has lived all over the East Coast and has settled in the Panhandle for the last six years. His decision to move was motivated by "a search for peace and quiet ... and affordable housing," Preisler said. Once Preisler moved here, he began researching local Jewish history, particularly that of Martinsburg. Preisler's research soon expanded to include the entire state. "When I started, you could type 'Jewish West Virginia' into Google and nothing (of substance) would come up. I wrote the book because it needed to be written," he said. Preisler's interest in history stems in part from being the son of two Holocaust survivors. His parents, from Germany and the Czech Republic, both lost many heirlooms, artifacts, pictures and even friends and family during the war. "Documentation is important," Preisler said. "Wars and natural disasters happen, and the history is lost without documentation." Although he has published eight books to date, as well as contributing to countless other publications, Preisler considers himself a researcher first, saying "I am a researcher ... I write by necessity." Over a year of such research has gone into this most recent recent book. Of the photographs in "Jewish West Virginia," the majority are vintage and most are Preisler's own. Those pictures that were not his own often required "a lot of work" to obtain. As Preisler explained, many of the photographs are family heirlooms from Jewish families all across the state. "Sometimes those photographs can be hard to get your hands on ... especially in a high-quality digital version," Preisler said. He gathered more than 300 pictures for the book, cataloging the history and significance of each, but was only able to publish 200 of them due to Arcadia's publishing constraints. "With this particular series, the Images of America Series, it's set. The book will be 128 pages with a maximum 200 pictures. I wish that I could have included more," he said. "I actually had to cut out a couple small towns in the lower parts of the state with very small Jewish populations." Preisler hopes that his book will both inspire new research and bring memories back to those who can remember the history that it contains. "I was very pleased when I saw the final copy," Preisler said. "Although I wrote and formatted the book, it's nice to see your work come out right." "Jewish West Virginia" is available at local bookstores as well as through Arcadia Publishing. The list price of the book is $21.99, and Preisler is selling signed copies at list price. Readers interested in a signed copy can contact Preisler at email@example.com."